The Bangkok Post has an editorial condemning the military dictatorship. for being anti-democratic. While the dictatorship has been anti-democratic since its birth in a military coup, the particular stimulus for the Post’s retort is the decision to “merge ‘small’ elected tambon administration organisations (TAOs)…”.
Of course, from July 2014, just after it illegally seized power, the junta suspended the election of local administrators. This was part of its anti-democracy, anti-politics, anti-politicians agenda, which has been maintained ever since.
The Post declares that latest effort by the junta “will be a step backwards for Thailand’s devolution process, with severe political, social and economic ramifications.” We are not sure how much further backwards the junta can take Thailand. Perhaps fully-fledged neo-feudalism is the next step.
The Post observes that this move “demonstrates the current regime’s hidden agenda to lessen the political and social roles of these elected local administrators and pave the way for the central administration to regain greater control over the sovereign power of local people and their representatives.”
That’s no hidden agenda. It has been obvious and in process since the May 2014 coup.
The will now engage in a “nationwide dissolution of every TAO which represents less than 7,000 people and generates an annual revenue of less than 20 million baht…”.
The Post states that:
the latest bill shows the regime’s step-by-step approach to gradually strip away the right of local people to have a greater say in the development and administration of their localities. This means those who make key decisions to address their plights and problems will be based in Bangkok and a distant municipal office.
We suspect that this is exactly what the junta’s anti-democrat constituency, based mainly in Bangkok’s condos, townhouses and shophouses, wants. After all, letting rural locals decide what is best for them is fraught with all kinds of noxious notions about sovereignty and self-determination that fly in the face of the preferred hierarchical and despotic paternalism. As the Post observes, it also “risks” the “chances of local politicians with a larger base of influence to take control of new local administration bodies.”
The Post suggests that the military dictatorship should allow “local democratic governance develop and mature.” It seems the editorial writer still doesn’t understand the most basic point of the junta as an anti-democratic hammer, beating notions of sovereignty and self-determination out of Thailand’s politics.